Before pho and banh mi became part of the lingua franca of local foodies, many Vietnamese families got into the restaurant business serving New Orleans dishes like gumbo, fried seafood platters and yakamein. Today, many of those families are choosing to showcase traditional Vietnamese flavors, and noodle shops are spreading rapidly around New Orleans and the suburbs.
One relatively new addition combines New Orleans and Vietnamese cuisines and adds sushi.
Fusion Cafe (5000 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 309-4991; www.fusioncafenola.com) has been around for about a year, serving pho, banh mi, bun salads and spring rolls on one side of the menu and roast beef po-boys, crawfish pies and fried shrimp platters on the other. There's also an extensive selection of sushi rolls and Japanese standards like gyoza, edamame and seaweed salad.
There is little culinary fusion going on between the cuisines, whose flavors keep to their own menu sections, the well-established crawfish roll notwithstanding. There are separate banh mi and po-boy lists, but po-boys can be ordered "Vietnamese style," which means fried seafood or gravy-soaked roast beef fill banh mi bread and come dressed with pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, cilantro, raw jalapenos and mayonnaise.
Fusion Cafe serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.